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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was regard.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as Conservative MP for Thornhill (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2019, with 55% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Foreign Affairs October 30th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure exactly what the question was, but I can assure this House that Canada is back on the international stage and Canadians know that this government brought Canada back.

Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act October 30th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I am indeed reassured that both the private member's bill and the government Bill C-35 have a common objective.

My colleague is absolutely correct in characterizing the only significant difference as being between the listing of states. This list will be created by the government and it will be created to recognize the 41 terrorist entities, which are now listed pursuant to the Canadian Criminal Code.

The words of Mr. Comras are indeed correct. Mr. Comras has said many things. It is quite reasonable for a government or an individual to accept some of his opinions, statements and conclusions as worthy of inclusion and consideration in Canadian law, but not necessarily, holus bolus, everything that he said.

Canada recognizes that lifting of immunity of all states may in fact have a significant effect on Canada's international relations, interests and foreign policies, particularly on democratic allies, which have little or no likelihood of ever being listed as supporters or sponsors of state terrorism.

The ability to amend and to add to the list as time changes, and there is provision for a review every two years after all, is that not a pragmatic way of moving forward?

Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act October 30th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for raising valid concerns. The short answer is, no. This particular bill is aimed at terrorists and the sponsors of terrorists in the interest of victims and their families. I think that any other legislation would merely distract from the central purpose of this particular law.

Bill C-35 certainly deserves due consideration and debate but it is what it is and we believe it is a law that should pass expeditiously through the House.

Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act October 30th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for reasonable commentary and for perfectly reasonable and valid questions.

In order to address the matter of listings, we need to remember that there are more than 100 countries with which Canada today does not have extradition agreements. Lifting the immunity of these states would expose, it is true, some of Canada's strategic international partners, including countries with which we share a strong commitment to fighting terrorism.

The creation of a listing regime is necessary to provide flexibility in protecting both Canada's national interest as well as the needs of victims. The listing regime set out in Bill C-35 shows that the government is providing global leadership, I think it is fair to say, in denouncing and clearly identifying these supporters of terrorism.

As to my colleague's question about the reality of the impact that Bill C-35 might have in terms of discouraging those thinking of considering a terrorist act against Canadians or Canadian properties here or abroad, we realize that those determined to commit terrorist acts may not be discouraged by a mere law, by civil behaviour or the reasonable relations of communities around the world, but it does discourage those who would support and finance those individuals.

It is an equal reality that these acts of terrorists cannot be carried out without financing and, in many cases, substantial financing, and that by discouraging those who support and finance terrorists, wherever they might be in the world, and admittedly it will be easier to prosecute within Canada under the Criminal Code than abroad, but this would discourage and, we believe, would have significant benefit to discourage terrorism here and abroad.

Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act October 30th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, in Canada today, there are too many whose lives, as I have said, have been touched by acts of terrorism in recent years and who continue, in some cases, to live under further acts of terrorism.

The bill would allow any victim of terrorism, past that effective date mentioned in my speech, to file an action in Canada to seek redress for loss and damages resulting from such a terrorist act committed by a terrorist entity listed under the Criminal Code. It would also, as I said, allow redress against other persons or organizations who supported, financially or in other ways, the terrorist and the terrorist action. The court would determine whether and how to hear the case by determining whether there is a real and substantial connection between the action and Canada.

In considering the bill, we need to consider the words delivered in a speech yesterday by the new head of CSIS who said that too many in our community, in our country, in our society and in the media seem to think that terrorism is an issue that exists beyond our borders, that in fact it is unrealistic and unreasonable to pursue the sorts of changes and improvements to our criminal justice system, as mentioned by the hon. member, or in fact the sorts of measures that are provided for in Bill C-35.

The new head of CSIS made it very clear that t there is a real threat and that it is around us every day for those who would open their eyes. Again, the words from a leading and informed member of the intelligence community should be heeded by all Canadians and certainly by members of this House.

Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act October 30th, 2009

moved that Bill C-35, An Act to deter terrorism, and to amend the State Immunity Act, be read a second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to have this opportunity at second reading to speak about how this government is delivering on its commitment to protect from terrorist activities the safety and security of Canadians, both at home and abroad, while giving those who do fall victim to heinous acts of terrorism an ability to fight back.

Bill C-35, An Act to deter terrorism, and to amend the State Immunity Act, is a result of victims' initiatives championed by an organization called the Canadian Coalition Against Terror, know by its acronym C-CAT, which represents Canadian terror victims. C-CAT has played a critical role in driving this bill forward.

I would like to personally credit Danny Eisen and Sheryl Saperia, two young Canadians who put heart and soul into C-CAT. Credit is due as well to many supporters across Canada who have contributed time and effort to this important initiative. However, the driving force has been Maureen Basnicki, who lost her husband Ken in the 9/11 destruction of the twin towers in New York City. Maureen has been joined in the C-CAT cause over the years by Canadians of all communities who have also had their lives and the lives of loved ones touched by terror.

The legislation before us today would provide the Government of Canada with another important tool to protect Canadians from acts of terrorism while ensuring that victims of these heinous acts have the chance to seek justice. Over the last few years, all of us have been witness to the horrible carnage that terrorism can and does leave in its wake.

Canadians including constituents from my riding of Thornhill have been personally affected by terrorism. We have witnessed the broken lives, the broken communities and the constant state of fear and panic that innocent bystanders as well as victims and their families are forced to endure.

Most recently, we heard of a string of terrorist attacks in Pakistan, where innocent civilians were indiscriminately massacred. The bombings in Mumbai, the attacks on Sri Lanka's national cricket team and the recent arrest of seven people on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack in Amsterdam are all chilling reminders of the continuing threat of terrorism.

Canada is not immune to this threat. Hundreds of Canadians were killed in the bombing of Air India flight 182, the worst act of terrorism in Canadian history, and the biggest in North America before the September 11 tragedy.

Canada has been designated as a potential target for terrorist attacks by organizations like al-Qaeda. We have also seen the successful action taken against terrorists born or recruited in our country before they could execute their plans. We must not stick our heads in the sand and pretend that this country has no interest in participating in the worldwide fight on terrorism. We must continue to take concrete and decisive action. That is the reason for Bill C-35, An Act to deter terrorism, and to amend the State Immunity Act.

We need to take steps to prevent these acts from occurring in the first place, and when they do occur we need to ensure that victims' voices are heard. That is what Bill C-35 is all about.

Bill C-35 demonstrates this government's commitment to deterring terrorism and to giving victims the possibility to seek redress.

Specifically, it would create a course of action to allow victims of terrorism to sue perpetrators and supporters of terrorism. It would modify the State Immunity Act to allow the Government of Canada to lift the immunity of states that are deemed to support terrorism. The bill demonstrates Canada's leadership in combatting terrorism and terrorist supporters.

Providing victims with an opportunity to seek justice for violent acts committed against them is a fundamental tenet of our legal system and a cornerstone of Canadian society. Criminals, including terrorists, need to be held to account. They need to know there are consequences to their actions. Victims too need to know that their interests are paramount and that they can move on with their lives to every extent possible.

Canada applies these principles domestically. The bill before us today would further extend them to some of the most callous acts of violence imaginable, regardless of whether they are committed here in Canada or overseas.

Bill C-35 would allow victims to use courts to seek redress provided they can show a real and substantial connection between their action and Canada. The burden of proof is smaller in civil cases.

Civil suits would deter future acts of violence by bankrupting or financially impairing the terrorist infrastructure through successful judgments and/or by causing terrorist sponsors to refrain from future sponsorship out of fear of the publicity and exposure that would result from a civil suit.

Bill C-35 proposes to allow victims to seek redress not just from the perpetrators of terrorist acts but also from their supporters.

Today we know that terrorist groups seldom act alone. The scale and sophistication of terrorist operations in recent years have often required vast amounts of financial and organizational support. That support can come from other entities and even from other states. Many observers have often described the relationship between terrorist groups and certain governments as one of a state operating within a state.

The present reality is that money is the lifeblood of terrorism. One of the most effective ways to deter terrorism and to put terrorists out of business is therefore to hit them where it can hurt the most, in the pocketbook.

The bill before us today, Bill C-35, An Act to deter terrorism, and to amend the State Immunity Act, would do just that by allowing victims of terrorism to sue perpetrators and supporters of terrorism, including those states that support terrorism, while respecting the important international relations that we have.

For example, Bill C-35 will allow victims of terrorist attacks to seek redress for losses or damages resulting from a terrorist act committed anywhere in the world on, or after, January 1, 1985, if they can demonstrate a real and substantial connection between their cause of action and Canada. Victims will be able to sue the perpetrators as well as supporters of terrorism, including some states that are known supporters.

Bill C-35 would lift the immunity of those states, under certain conditions, so that governments that support terrorism can no longer hide behind the international rules and agreements between so-called civilized, law-abiding countries.

As Victor Comras, one of the five international monitors appointed to oversee the implementation of security council measures against terrorism and terrorist financing, once noted:

...major terrorism’s financial abettors and supporters...have successfully avoided criminal prosecution. (...) [C]ivil liability cases... associated with terrorism may [therefore] constitute the best constraints we have against their activities and our best chances to hold them accountable.

Bill C-35 proposes to do exactly this by lifting state immunity for states known to support terrorism. The decision to list such countries will be made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in consultation with the Minister of Public Safety and will be subject to review every two years. Listed countries will also be able to make a written application for delisting, which again will be reviewed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in consultation with the Minister of Public Safety.

There are, therefore, safeguards and review mechanisms built into this provision, striking the appropriate balance between accountability, justice and fairness.

The bill before us today is also reasonable. It proposes to give the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Finance the discretion to help victims identify and locate the property of a foreign state against which a judgment has been rendered, provided such assistance falls within the minister's mandate and it is in Canada's best interests to do so.

The provisions of Bill C-35 respond to the needs of victims. They respond to the needs of Canadians who want us to work together to put an end to terrorist acts and to ensure that we protect their safety and their security at home as well as abroad.

Several years have now passed since that terrible day in 2001 when Canadians and people from around the world became aware of just how much they were at risk and how committed terrorists are to causing untold and indiscriminate damage.

Since then, Canada and its allies have taken a stand to say that we are not afraid, that we will not bow down to the terrorists, and that we will not give in to terror.

We are not going to back down from terrorists or give in to fear. We are going to meet the threats they pose head-on and take the necessary steps to protect this country, protect our fellow citizens and help ensure that terrorists do not succeed in raining havoc among our friends, our neighbours and our allies overseas.

That is the commitment all of us as Canadians made in 2001. It is the commitment that all of us today as Canadians still believe in. The bill presently before us gives this country another important tool in our efforts to both deter terrorism and help ensure that victims get the justice they so rightly deserve.

That is what our government has committed to doing and what the legislation before us today is all about. I therefore urge hon. members to give speedy passage to the bill we are debating today and send one loud and very clear message to all those who would threaten our safety and security: Canada is prepared to do anything and everything we can to defeat terrorism.

Foreign Affairs September 17th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I would remind this House that the so-called fact-finding commission was the creation of one of the United Nations' most flawed bodies, the Human Rights Council, which includes some of the UN's least democratic states.

In commissioning this study, the Human Rights Council pre-emptively assumed Israel's culpability. This government has never equated Israel, a democratic state, with terrorist groups that seek to destroy both it and its people.

This government will continue to remind members opposite that it is one thing to offer support of words to Israel when it is convenient and quite another to stand with Israel in its--

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act September 14th, 2009

Madam Speaker, I regret that I cannot give my hon. colleague the answer that his worthy question deserves. However, I can assure him that Canada is open to free trade discussions for foreign investment protection agreements with countries throughout our hemisphere. We do believe that by engaging we do have the ability to leverage--

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act September 14th, 2009

Whether or not he--

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act September 14th, 2009

Then the member was there with his eyes closed.

The member raised the matter of whether Canada was alone in this matter. I would ask the hon. member to ask why the European Free Trade Association, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein have conducted free trade negotiations with Colombia, as have the United States and the European Union. All of these countries are as sensitive as Canada is to issues of human rights and ethics in government.

I must say that the NDP is dealing with, as I said, stereotypes from the eighties.

I would also disagree with the point made by the member about thousands of letters protesting this agreement. In fact, when I was there, as were two other members, the member for Kings—Hants and the member Toronto Centre, we were impressed by the fact that the private sector unions welcomed this free trade agreement as a way of improving conditions for their workers, for the growth of their individual companies and for new opportunities.

I would also suggest, and I hesitate to do it while the member is not in the House, that a member of his own party, the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River, travelled with me and I can tell the member that he was impressed from our meetings with civil society, with trade unions, with the church, with victims--